NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – The City of Northampton purchased 229 acres to preserve and add to the trail network.

The Office of Planning and Sustainability acquired the 229-acre parcel and will permanently be preserved as part of the Saw Mill Hills Greenway. It will be owned and managed by the Northampton Conservation Commission, with a conservation restriction held by the Kestrel Land Trust.

The new section can be accessed from Sylvester Road which connects to protected land of now nearly 1,000 acres of the Saw Mill Hills. The area provides a network of trails and supports nearly 20 different kinds of natural communities and safeguards the City’s drinking water supply. 

The land trust of Saw Mill Hills/Roberts Hill Complex was awarded a grant of $400,000 in September to aid in protecting land and will help complete the regional ONE trail and provide climate resiliency benefits.

The Northampton Open Space, Recreation, and Multi‐Use Trail Plan includes “Develop a ONE Northampton trail that encircles the city, building on existing trails, adding trails where there are gaps, with a good treadway, consistent signing. ONE Northampton should be an easily identifiable trail and attract more people,” the City of Northampton stated on the ONE trail development.

“The Pomeroy parcel is incredibly valuable from both an ecological and recreational standpoint,” said Sarah LaValley, Assistant Director of Planning & Sustainability. “It includes headwaters streams and wetlands, a variety of natural communities, and priority habitat for rare plants and wildlife. The area is part of a large forested block that extends to the Berkshire Hills, providing the connectivity needed to maintain biodiversity and ecosystems in the long term.”

Mark Wamsley, Conservation Director at the Kestrel Land Trust stated that “the Pomeroy land is a keystone of the Saw Mill Hills, helping to knit the area together through its size, location, and trail connections. Protecting such a critical piece of the forest landscape exemplifies the importance of strong partnerships between state and local governments, land trusts like Kestrel, and private funders such as the Wiederhold Foundation, which we were able to access in support of this effort. Kestrel’s ongoing relationship with Northampton has yielded wonderful results for the land and local residents, and we look forward to helping the city conserve and care for them long into the future.”

A state Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity Grant and funding from the Community Preservation Act were used to purchase the land.